Internet proxy vs VPN
Internet proxy servers and VPN are both used to hide the identity of the users and also to manipulate their geo-location. Geographically blocked services like many streaming contents can be accessed by the users outside the boundary of origin. Some VPN providers offer some proxy service along with VPN services. Many proxy servers are also available for free. Therefore the question that normally comes to the user’s mind is “should I use VPN or a free/cheaper proxy server?”. The processes in them vary significantly from each other and so are the consequences.
Proxy servers are intermediate computers between the internet and the user’s local computer. The IP addresses of the users are kept hidden because the traffic carried through proxies have the IPs of the proxy servers. For encryption of all the traffic, separate resources are not needed by the proxy servers. These servers can allow connections from many users simultaneously. These servers normally use HTTP and SOCKS protocols for communication. Some common proxy servers are:
- Public proxy servers: Since multiple connections can be allowed by the proxy servers, several servers have emerged which enables anyone to access them. Lists of these servers are found along with their Port number and IP addresses in sites like “HideMyAss” and “freeproxylist.org”. These free servers are highly unstable, and can go online/offline without prior warnings. They vary in their speeds. Transmitting sensitive and private informations through these anonymous servers can be risky because they do not offer any support.
- Private proxy servers: These free servers are not usable by everyone. For example, VPN.S provides both SOCKS5 and HTTP services, whereas TorGuard and BTGuard provide SOCKS5 torrent services. These are much more reliable as good reputed companies run them and provide complete support. Customized softwares are also provided by them.
- Web proxies: These proxy services functions by connecting to public HTTP server and enable anonymous surfing from within the user’s browser window. No installation of additional software is required. These services are also free. The users are also exposed to lots of advertisements. They cannot effectively encounter complex contents like Java scripts or Flash. The IP addresses of popular web proxies are blocked by many websites.
VPNs produce a secured encrypted “tunnel” between the user’s computer and host server. The government or ISP cannot trace the online activities, IPs of the users, etc. because they are hidden with 128-bit encryption. If the VPN provider keeps logs then they can trace the user’s online activities. So a good provider should not keep user’s logs. VPN setup involves downloading/installing the VPN client and configuring the user’s computer. Many providers offer detailed setup guides. After the completion of setup, all the online activities of the user are safely routed through VPN.
- ISPs and governments cannot pry on internet activities of the users.
- Very high range of encryption levels (128bit – 2048bit).
- The internet activities of users get disguised after the setup of VPN is complete on the user’s device.
- More costly than the proxies.
- During peak hours connection speed is reduced.